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TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Andrew Everett, Press Officer, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
DATE: Wednesday, September 23, 2020
RE:  The 17 Ways SCOTUS Could Dismantle or Overturn Roe


As our nation mourns the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, politicians across the country haven’t skipped a beat — moving to replace her before she has even been laid to rest. Before Justice Ginsburg’s death, President Trump already promised to appoint a justice who will dismantle her legacy of protecting Roe v. Wade and access to abortion. Despite nearly 50 years of precedent and in the face of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans (and counting), politicians have put the health and rights of millions of people in jeopardy through a slew of cruel policies and challenges to existing laws. A number of these actions have made their way to the Supreme Court — potentially threatening reproductive health care access for years to come. Seventeen abortion-related cases are just one step from the Supreme Court; the last two cases on abortion restrictions were decided by just one vote while Ginsburg was on the Court. Access to abortion is hanging on by a thread across the country, and for too many people — specifically Black and Brown communities forced to navigate a legacy of systemic racism and discriminatory policies — Roe is already meaningless because abortion is already inaccessible. These cases could dismantle what little abortion access is left.

As we await the announcement of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, below is a detailed list of 17 abortion-related cases that are just one step away from the Supreme Court. If you plan to cover or have questions about litigation impacting reproductive rights or abortion access, please reach out to [email protected].

CASES ONE STEP AWAY FROM THE SUPREME COURT

4th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

1. Amy Bryant, et al. v. Jim Woodall, et al., No. 19-1685

  • Description: Challenge to a North Carolina twenty-week abortion ban.

2. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists et al. v. U.S. Food & Drug Administration et al., Nos. 20-1824; 20-1970 

  • Description: Challenge to the FDA’s nationwide Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) requirement that mifepristone be dispensed in-person at a health center during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Inc. et al. v. Alex M. Azar II et al., No. 20-2006 

  • Description: Challenge to the Trump administration’s nationwide separate-billing rule, which forces insurers offering state exchange plans with abortion coverage to bill consumers separately for abortion services.

5th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

4. Rebekah Gee v. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast et al., No. 18-30699

  • Description: Challenges to Louisiana’s inaction on Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s application for an abortion license at its New Orleans health center and an attempt by politicians to force Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid program.

5. Jackson Women´s Health Organization et al. v. Thomas Dobbs et al., No. 18-60868 

  • Description: Challenge to a Mississippi fifteen-week abortion ban.

6. Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Ken Paxton et al., No. 17-51060

  • Description: Challenge to a Texas law that bans the use of the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure, the most common abortion procedure used after sixteen weeks of pregnancy.

7. Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Charles Smith, No. 18-50730 

  • Description: Challenge to a Texas law designed to stigmatize abortion and shame patients who seek abortion services by requiring fetal tissue to be buried or cremated.

6th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

8. EMW Women’s Surgical Center et al. v. Adam Meier et al., No. 18-6161

  • Description: Challenge to medically unnecessary Kentucky laws that require abortion providers maintain written transfer agreements with a local hospital and a transport agreement with ambulance services.

9. Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio et al. v. Amy Acton et al., No. 18-3329

  • Description: Challenge to an Ohio law banning abortions if a provider learns the reason for seeking abortion services is a diagnosis of Down syndrome, a stigmatizing law that does nothing to address the serious health care disparities people with disabilities face.

10. Memphis Center for Reproductive Health et al. v. Herbert H. Slatery III et al., No. 20-5969

  • Description: Challenge to a broad Tennessee law that:

    1. Bans abortion at six, eight, ten, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, and twenty-four weeks of pregnancy

      1. The six-week ban takes effect first; if that ban is found unconstitutional, the eight-week ban takes effect; if the eight-week ban is found unconstitutional, the ten-week ban takes effect; and so on.

    2. Bans abortion if a provider learns the reason for seeking abortion services is based on the fetus’s sex or race, or diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

7th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

11. Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky, Inc. v. Kristina Box et al., No. 17-2428

  • Description: Challenge to Indiana law putting minors in harm’s way by requiring parents of minors who have already been adjudged mature enough to have an abortion on their own to notify a parent before they can obtain an abortion.

12. Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky, Inc. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health et al., No. 20-2407

  • Description: Challenge to Indiana law requiring physicians to report “all abortion complications,” of which many are confusing, vague, or completely normal and not threatening to the health of the patient.

8th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

13. Frederick W. Hopkins v. Larry Jegley et al., No. 17-2879

  • Description: Challenge to four Arkansas abortion restrictions, including a ban on the use of the D&E procedure, the most common abortion procedure used after sixteen weeks of pregnancy.

 14. Little Rock Family Planning Services et al. v. Leslie Rutledge et al., No. 19-2690

  • Description: Challenge to three Arkansas abortion restrictions: 

    1. An eighteen-week abortion ban

    2. A ban on abortion if a provider learns the reason for seeking abortion services is because a diagnosis of Down syndrome

    3. A requirement that all abortion providers be board-certified or board-eligible OB-GYNs

 15. Reproductive Health Services et al. v. Michael Parson et al., No. 19-2882

  • Description: Challenge to a Missouri law that: 

    1. Bans abortions after eight, fourteen, eighteen, and twenty weeks of pregnancy 

      1. The eight-week ban takes effect first; if that ban is found unconstitutional, the fourteen-week ban takes effect; if the fourteen-week ban is found unconstitutional, the eighteen-week ban takes effect; and so on.

    2. Bans abortion if a provider learns the reason for seeking abortion services is based on the fetus’s sex or race, or diagnosis of Down syndrome

11th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

16. Reproductive Health Services et al. v. Daryl Bailey et al., No. 17-13561 

  • Description: Challenge to part of an Alabama parental-consent law requiring that the court allow the district attorney and minor’s parents to participate in judicial bypass proceedings, putting minors in an abusive household at risk.

17. SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective et al. v. Brian Kemp et al., No. 20-13024-G

  • Description: Challenge to a Georgia six-week abortion ban.